Karti Chidambaram has finally emerged from under the shadow of his father, P Chidambaram, and entered the electoral fray. A law graduate from Cambridge University, Karti told Saubhadra Chatterji that while he begins a new journey, it is by no means the end of his father’s political career.
What will be your talking points in the campaign?
Developmental work done in the constituency — the success of the student loan programme, MNREGA and farm loan waiver. It will also be a referendum on the three-year misrule of the AIADMK.
Political pundits and even your own party leaders feel the Congress will perform miserably in Tamil Nadu. What makes you hopeful of winning?
The Congress unit in Sivaganga is the strongest in Tamil Nadu. Our successful implementation of programmes and developmental work gives us an edge.
Given the history of rivalry between your father and J Jayalalithaa, aren’t you worried that she might give extra attention to see you defeated at any cost?
Jayalalithaa must remember 1996 and 2004.
The Congress could not find any ally in Tamil Nadu, whereas the BJP has roped in some regional parties. Don’t you agree that BJP is already in a position of advantage?
The BJP has MDMK, DMDK, IJK and KNMK. This is nothing but an alphabetical soup. No electoral value. No ideology.
Rahul Gandhi talks about promoting meritocracy and ending the quota raj in ticket distribution. But your ticket is a clear case of family fiefdom. How do see this contradiction?
I addressed my first public meeting in 1977. I have been very active in the party since 1996. While being my father’s son should not be the criteria for selection, it shouldn’t be a disqualification too.
Why did your father decide not to contest in this poll? There is a strong criticism that he did not contest because the Congress is in a bad shape in Tamil Nadu and there is a high chance of him losing in Sivaganga.
He has contested 9 elections since 1977. He has just opted out of electoral politics. He continues to be in politics and public life.
Will your father now come to Rajya Sabha?
I don’t know.
What tips has he given you for campaigning?
Plenty. He asks me to smile more.